The controversy of naming ships and submarines during the past few years has overshadowed the abuse of the U.S. Navy’s ship-designation system. Established in 1920 as “Standard Nomenclature for Naval Vessels,” it was based on a simple yet potentially expansive scheme that allowed the original 43 symbols (e.g., CV for aircraft carrier, DD for destroyer) to cover approximately 120 symbols by the end of World War II. 1
During the scheme’s 90-plus years, the first letter of a symbol designated a major category of ships. Thus, the letter D for destroyer-type ships evolved from the basic DD (destroyer) and DL (destroyer leader) to DD, DDE, DDG, DDH, DDK, DDR, DM, DMS, as well as the DE (now FF) and DL (frigate) series.